Israeli pop star Noa Kirel on Tuesday advanced to the Eurovision 2023 final with her performance in Liverpool of her song “Unicorn.”
She will compete on Saturday night to become the fifth Israeli to win the song contest since becoming the first non-European country to participate in the annual event in 1973. The last Israeli to take the top prize was Netta Barzilai in 2018 for her song “Toy.”
“There is no excitement quite like this!” Kirel said in a statement after the results were announced. “I felt like every one of you was with me. I promise to do everything — and I mean everything — to keep making the people of Israel happy in the grand final.”
Kirel co-wrote “Unicorn” alongside Doron Medalie, Yinon Yahel and May Sfadia.
Also advancing to the final: Croatia, Moldova, Switzerland, Finland, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Sweden, Serbia and Norway.
The 22-year-old from the central Israeli city of Ra’anana performed her song hours after Israel eliminated three top Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist leaders in the Gaza Strip. The country prepared for possible rocket fire in retaliation on Tuesday night, but it was a quiet night with no immediate reaction from Palestinian terrorists, who vowed revenge.
“Security is the most important thing at the moment, and I hope that the contest will hearten citizens of Israel. My heart is with them, and I will do everything I can so that the people of Israel are proud of me,” Kirel said in a statement ahead of the contest.
Ukraine won the competition last year but was unable to host the event due to the ongoing military invasion of the country by Russian forces. Last year’s runner-up the United Kingdom is hosting on behalf of Ukraine.